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Elton John is a British singer, pianist and composer who was one of the most popular musicians of the 20th century. Along with selling more than 250 million records he has found success on Broadway, composing the music score for the Tony award winning hit Billy Elliot (2008).
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He soon decided to take a break from music, focusing his energies on his soccer team in England. Around this time, John also publicly announced that he was bisexual. (He later came out as a gay man.) At the time, John was ridiculed and taunted for his sexuality. The controversy died down, and he made a triumphant return to music in 1979 with the album A Single Man.
While not producing smash hits in 1980s, John still did well on the charts. Some of the most memorable songs from this period, include the ballads "Little Jeannie" and "Empty Garden (Hey, Hey Johnny)." "Empty Garden (Hey, Hey Johnny)" was written as a tribute to his friend John Lennon of the Beatles, who had been killed in 1980.
In 1990, after years of battling substance abuse issues, John went into rehabilitation. The newly sober musical star, delighted at his second chance at life, soon founded his own charitable organization to help in the fight against AIDS. Established in 1992 in the United States, the Elton John AIDS Foundation has more than $225 million to support HIV/AIDS programs around the world.
Branching out in different directions, John teamed up with lyricist Tim Rice for several projects. They worked together on the soundtrack for the 1994 animated hit The Lion King, and one of the movie's songs, "Can You Feel The Love Tonight," brought John his first Academy Award win for Best Original Song. The pair later netted a Tony Award for Best Original Score in 2000 for their musical Aida.
John received a number of special honors around this time. In 1994, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Queen Elizabeth II made John a Commander of the Order of the British Empire the following year. (The queen knighted him several years later, making him officially "Sir Elton John.")
While he enjoyed all of the recognition and praise, he soon found himself rocked by grief. During the summer of 1997, John lost two good friends—fashion designer Gianni Versace and Princess Diana. He reworked one of his classic songs, "Candle in the Wind," as a tribute to Princess Diana, with the song's proceeds going to a charitable trust established in her honor. "Candle in the Wind 1997" proved to be a tremendous success, selling more than 30 million copies that year.
John has continued to record new music. In 2006, he released The Captain & the Kid, a sequel to his earlier autobiographical effort Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy (1975). He also teamed up with Leon Russell for 2010's The Union, which led to a joint tour. According to Rolling Stone magazine, John has another album in the works, The Diving Board, produced by T Bone Burnett.
Also in demand as a songwriter, John has been instrumental in bringing Billy Elliott the Musical to the stage. The show, adapted from the 2000 film, opened on Broadway in 2008, where it quickly became a critical and commercial success. John also worked on the 2011 animated film Gnomeo & Juliet, serving as a producer and a composer.
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